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World - Pacific Fisheries Managers Must Improve Sustainability and Stem Illegal Fishing

Annual meeting is ideal time to advance science-based oversight of tuna and marlins

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated fisheries management around the world, including in the roughly 20% of the ocean managed by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC). Meetings of the Commission that are normally held in person have been moved online, making it difficult for negotiators to connect. And independent fishery observers have been temporarily removed from vessels due to concerns over health risks.

Still, fishing for valuable tuna species continues, and the supply chain effects of the pandemic have underscored the importance of maintaining healthy and resilient fisheries that are equipped to handle unexpected shocks to the management system. When the WCPFC meets virtually for its annual meeting Dec. 9-15, its focus should be on advancing and adopting measures to ensure that the fisheries are sustainably managed—per the best available science—and that rules are enforced, even in difficult times.

Modernize management through science-based harvest strategies

In 2014, the WCPFC committed to transition its management approach from short-term quotas to a long-term methodology called harvest strategies. This science-based, precautionary approach is designed to meet a set of agreed objectives for management of a fishery, such as preventing overfishing, by automating catch limits that have the best chance of meeting those objectives.

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